Challenging times but help is available


It’s the school holidays, and I hope you and your family enjoy the beautiful marvels of the Clutha district!

Our Youth Parliament 2022 campaign is in full swing, and I’m excited to work with this year’s Southland Youth MP Luke Thomson, a Clutha resident who attended Blue Mountain College last year.

I do not doubt that Luke will capably represent the views of youth in our local community and advocate for them when he attends the Youth Parliament in July this year.

As Luke says, ‘‘as citizens of a democratic society, we have a responsibility to all understand and actively participate in the machinery that makes up our governmental system, to have our say about issues that affect us directly’’.

The ongoing drought conditions are placing significant strain on our local farming community, and the rising cost of living isn’t helping either. The Feed Co› ordination Service has been outstanding in its service, connecting farmers with surplus feed to help them get through the coming months.

I’d strongly encourage anyone who needs a hand to reach out so that we can connect you with the wide range of support services available.

It is a very challenging time for local government too, with the Labour Government proceeding on a significant reform agenda with Three Waters, the Review into the Future of Local Government, and RMA reforms pending.

The Government has indicated that they anticipate a delay in introducing their Three Waters legislation, originally planned to be presented by December last year but now postponed to mid›2022. In the meantime, they are attempting to bribe councils with a $2 billion fund to spend however they want, even on projects that have nothing to do with water infrastructure, as long as they stop criticising Three Waters.

It isn’t reassuring to see a government that once claimed it would be the most open and transparent ever using its power to try to shut down criticism and debate.

I plan to meet mayors and councils to hear their views on this and take these to Parliament when debating the Three Waters legislation.

Our community has several opportunities to participate in consultations on matters that directly affect residents. These include the Clutha District Council’s annual residents survey available on their website. I want to encourage you to take the time and have your say.

This week, our nation came together to celebrate Anzac Day, a day of great significance to our country. This year, it is 107 years since the Anzac troops arrived at Gallipoli on that Sunday morning of April 25, 1915. Over the years, we’ve evolved as a country, people, and nation, confident in our own identity. But that identity — as an innovative, hardy, and brave nation at the bottom of the earth — was partially forged on the battlefields of Europe.

So it’s appropriate that on Anzac Day we remember the commitment and sacrifice others have made to establish the free land we live in today. I do hope you managed to join an Anzac event near you this week.